Experts are people qualified in a specific field (medicine, construction, forensic science, etc.), who can help judges on specific technical points. Their opinion is not binding on the judge, but judges may be guided by their conclusions when making their decision.

Experts have a duty of loyalty and independence. When they present their report to the judge, experts must swear to tell ‘the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. Failure to act honestly and with integrity is punished. They must be completely impartial and have no connection with the judge or either party. Experts are under the control of the judge.

The use of an expert can only be ordered by a judge, either at the judge’s own initiative or at the request of one of the parties.

When an expert is appointed, they conduct a professional investigation by hearing the parties and collecting their observations, as well as by carrying out technical research. For example, a medical expert can view the victim’s injuries and how they were inflicted. The judge may use a psychiatrist to carry out a psychological personality assessment to identify whether the defendant/accused was able to understand the meaning of their actions. The technical knowledge of these experts is therefore necessary to understand how the offence took place.
The mission of the experts, which can only be to examine technical issues, is specified in the decision ordering the expertise.

The expert then submits a report to the judge who decides whether or not to take it into account. The judge may also ask the expert to come and present their theory at the trial.

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